Education welfare service

Information for chaperones and tutors

Children and young people of compulsory school age who take part in entertainment and modelling are safeguarded by legislation which aims to secure their health, proper treatment and education.

This is achieved, in certain circumstances, by the legal requirement for the person or company who wishes to engage the child to apply for and obtain an Entertainment Licence from the child’s Local Authority (Education) (LA)

The LA may endorse the licence with the requirement that the applicant must employ a chaperone and/or tutor to look after, and/or teach the child, during the term of the licence. It is the responsibility of the applicant to find a suitable chaperone and/or tutor but in each case the chaperone and the tutoring must be approved by the child’s LA.

The chaperone

The chaperone is the key person who protects and supports the child and is responsible for the child’s welfare. They shall be in charge of the child at all times, including when the child is filming, recording or on stage, except while the child is in the charge of their parent or tutor. The chaperone is acting in place of the parents and their first duty is to the children in their care. Therefore, they must not be involved in any other activity, (i.e. dresser) which will interfere with their duties and responsibilities as a chaperone.

The child’s continued well-being overrides the needs of the producer or company and the chaperone is the person who, even though they may at times be under pressure from other quarters, must ensure the child’s well-being.

The maximum number of children that a chaperone can care for is 12 but this may be too many if, for example, the children are living away from home or they are very young.

The chaperone is responsible for ensuring the child gets proper medical treatment due to illness or injury, and for the child’s parents to be informed. They must also inform the child’s LA of such an incident and of any concerns about the well-being or treatment of the child.

A basic knowledge of health and safety issues at the place of the performance or rehearsal is required of the chaperone. They must have an understanding of the regulations as it is them, (together with the licence holder), who ensures the regulations (and any additional requirements issued by the child’s LA) are upheld at all times. Help and advice can always be obtained from the child’s, or your Local Authority or even the Local Authority in whose area the performance is taking place.

Arrangements for handing over responsibility, e.g. between parent and chaperone, or chaperone and tutor, will vary according to the circumstances; it is important to ensure that there is never a time at which it is unclear who is responsible for the child.

The precise duties while the child is at the place of performance will vary according to the nature and location of the performance. This will depend on whether the performance is in a theatre, in a film/television studio, outdoors, or if the child is required to live away from home.

In a theatre the times when the child is rehearsing or performing are known in advance and the chaperones routine is fairly straight forward. Whilst recording for a film or television the child may be in the studio or outdoors for much of the day and during this time is in the charge of the chaperone, except when having lessons with a tutor, and it is the duty of the chaperone to accompany the child to and from the dressing room, school room, or set, as well as remaining on set while the child is there.

The chaperone must keep a record of the times the child is on set, being taught, and resting to ensure the regulations are complied with and the child gets not less than the required number of breaks for meals and rest. They must make sure that the child has suitable opportunities for recreational activities, and is protected from stress, strain, bad weather and any other conditions likely to harm the child.

If the child is living away from home, the chaperone is responsible for the child throughout. This includes seeing that the lodgings are satisfactory in every way and that the child is occupied during any spare time. The chaperone will need to exercise a greater amount of supervision than if the child was living at home.

The tutor

The child’s Local Authority must ensure that the child’s education will not suffer by reason of the child taking part in entertainment

Any tutor employed to teach the child must be suitably qualified to teach children of the age and standard in question. The maximum number of children that may be taught by the tutor at any one time is twelve, if they are of the same standard, or, six, if they are of different standards.

The amount of tuition the child must receive is given in the regulations. The schoolroom must be approved by the child’s LA.

Further information

The licensing authority is the LA and all applications for the approval of a chaperone must be made to them. A chaperone shall apply for approval to the LA where they reside.

In order to evaluate the applicant’s suitability to work with children the application process includes:

  • obtaining references
  • ascertaining the applicant’s physical wellbeing
  • a check with the Disclosure and Barring service
  • a check with Social Service records

A training workshop will be provided for successful applicants and the approval will be for a period of three years, after which time a renewal application must be made.

Should the chaperone prove unsuitable, the Licensing Authority may withdraw their approval.

Applicants must be at least 21 years old.

If you would like more information or wish to apply to be authorised as a chaperone, in the first instance please contact the Local Authority in whose area you live.